Wednesday, March 7, 2007

1993-94 Redux: Missouri 63, Kansas State 43

(Needless to say, I hadn’t thought about Askia Jones in a while.)

January 8, 1994

of the Tribune's staff

Kansas State and Missouri meet tonight to open their Big Eight seasons. You can look for their shiny records in the trash. The coaches have already thrown them out.

The Wildcats are 10-1, the Tigers 9-1, but both sides are sounding a bit finicky as Kansas State visits Missouri this evening.

K-State's Dana Altman complained this week was that his team was playing only 30 minutes of the regulation 40. That was before the Wildcats' 67-63 victory Wednesday at La Salle.

“We played well for 10 minutes and poorly for 30,” he said. “We kind of got it reversed.”

In those final 10 minutes, the Wildcats staged a major comeback. They were down 61-49 with 6:52 to play.

Norm Stewart is familiar with that kind of close scrape this season.

“The only thing we're consistent about is being inconsistent,” Stewart said. “We've won nine ballgames, and so we're really pleased with our position as far as the won-lost record is concerned.”

The Tigers have won eight since being demolished at Arkansas.

“We're improving our shooting percentage, and I think a lot of that's coming about because we're doing a better job moving the ball, and we also are doing a better job with our personnel,” Stewart said. “I think our personnel is beginning to know one another more.”

The Wildcats are winning despite their shooting. They've hit 50 percent only once, against Marshall, this season.

Leading scorer Ski Jones is coming off the bench while working his way into shape after an injury and illness. “He's not in as good a condition as he needs to be,” Altman said.

When in, Jones is scoring. He's averaging 22.2 points and 26.8 minutes per game. No other Wildcat is averaging in double figures.

At 6-foot-7, Deryl Cunningham is in the familiar position of undersized middleman for Kansas State. Led by Cunningham's 8.2 per game, K-State is managing to outrebound opponents by more than six per game.

“He probably had as much or more to do with that win against La Salle as anybody,” Altman said. Cunningham had 16 rebounds.

That was Kansas State's 10th consecutive victory after opening the season with a loss at home to Southern Mississippi.

Cunningham's likely assignment tonight is Jevon Crudup, who had 16 of his game-high 18 points in the first half of Missouri's 72-56 victory Wednesday at Southern Illinois.

“I think the guys on the ballclub are excited about getting conference play started,” Crudup said. “Everybody's looking forward to it.

“It's going to be a possession-type game. We just have to get in and make use of every possession that we have.”

It might go down to the last, which has been a specialty of the house at the Hearnes Center this season. Then the first 39 minutes won't count for quite as much.
January 10, 1994

of the Tribune's staff

The first half had been the troublesome part of the ballgame for Missouri in the early part of the season. Last night, the first half was the ballgame.

The Tigers won their ninth consecutive game, opened their Big Eight schedule with a victory and knocked solidly on the door of The Associated Press Top 25 by beating Kansas State 63-43 at the Hearnes Center.

Missouri (10-1) had the game firmly in hand in the first half, when it led by as much as 21 points before ending the period with a 35-16 lead.

Kansas State's 10-game winning streak disappeared, and the Wildcats (10-2) looked lifeless.

“We lacked purpose offensively. We lacked purpose defensively,” K-State coach Dana Altman said. “We just didn't compete.” Missouri led from the time Melvin Booker made a three-pointer to open the scoring 18 seconds into the game.

Askia Jones and Demond Davis made three-point baskets back to back to cut Missouri's lead to 11-9 with 13:38 left in the half. Missouri then went on a 24-4 run, and K-State never showed the capacity to come back.

“I thought we really did a good job on the defensive end of the floor, starting with picking up the ball,” MU coach Norm Stewart said.

With the Tigers forcing point guard Anthony Beane off the ball, the Wildcats had 13 first-half turnovers and finished with 24.

“We were trying to pressure Beane,” Booker said. “Once we get it out of Beane's hands, we pretty much face guarded him to keep it out of his hands, make somebody else bring it up.”

Often that someone was Jones, who is recovering from a series of leg injuries.

A rotation of Lamont Frazier, Julian Winfield and Booker helped hold Jones to five-of-14 shooting. Jones, Booker and Jevon Crudup all had 14 points to lead the scoring.

Missouri freshman Kelly Thames had 13 rebounds, a game and career high.

Crudup remained a force inside, making passes and blocks as well as baskets.

“Everybody's playing for each other, making passes for one another,” Crudup said.

Things are coming together well enough that Stewart, who last week said his team was not consistent enough to be ranked, has withdrawn his objection. The Tigers were 26th in the AP voting last week, and No. 23 George Washington has lost twice since then.

“We probably warrant being in the Top 25, but I'm not running any campaign to get in the polls,” Stewart said.